Again a short jaunt through DC, up North Capitol to Florida and wiggle around to Malcolm X Park.

Large bronze memorial of James Buchanan by Hans Schuler, who helped launch the Schuler School of Fine Arts in Baltimore. Made in 1929, its the only memorial to Buchanan and I suspect it was hard to stake. Schuler from what I can gather was a popular memorialist of his day. His Buchanan is soft and sad and distanced. I doubt there are many visitors.

This is a fascinating park – about five city blocks long and two blocks wide – is called Meridian Hill Park by the city, but Malcolm X Park by everyone else. It had a heavy reputation 10+ years ago, but there’s no city in the US better at segmenting poverty from elegance like DC.

Up a discreet stairwell from Schuler is the Dante by Ettore Ximenes. Dedicated for the poet’s 600th birthday, it is either identical or closely matches another Dante by Ximenes which is in NYC near Lincoln Center at 64th Street.

The first plans for the park were drawn up by landscape architect George Burnap, and later finished by Horace Peaslee, an Italianate design, taking advantage of the rake of the grounds with a wide stairstepping fountain and a long swath of green grass, good for football and frisbee.

At the top of the fountain is a replica of Paul Dubois’ Joan of Arc. The original is at Reims, but there are several others in various cities. In a time before public arts were financed by city do-gooders, businesses and associations were a bit wiser to the usefulness of the arts, and of how to raise the capital to build works worth having forever.

Public subscriptions for the artwork, what we sometimes now call capital campaigns, often took decades to resolve, and the artist would be pressed to make a prototype to show to prospective donors, and after the unveiling, scale models of the sculpture would be offered for sale by the artist.

Joan has been missing her sword for a long time and has never been waxed correctly, except by the hands of school children, as you can see from the shiny smooth hoofs. .

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